KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN — On January 14, 2021, a jury found Javontae Quintez White, 28, of Grand Rapids, guilty of distributing a fatal dose of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl to a Grand Rapids woman, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. The victim, who died in July 2018, was 33 years old at the time of her death.
On the morning of July 8, 2018, the victim was discovered by her boyfriend in her apartment unconscious and unresponsive. The boyfriend and the victim had used the fentanyl late in the evening of July 7, 2018. The Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) and paramedics responded to the scene and found the victim dead. Police identified a suspected amount of fentanyl and other drugs on a living room side table steps away from the victim. An autopsy performed by the Kent County Medical Examiner later that day revealed that the victim had died of a fentanyl overdose.
The boyfriend had obtained the fentanyl through a heroin addict who middle-manned the deal between the boyfriend and Mr. White on the evening of July 7, 2018. Within hours of finding the victim on July 8, 2018, GRPD arranged an undercover purchase that resulted in the addict / middleman’s arrest. Further investigation by GRPD led to the identification of Mr. White as the source of the deadly fentanyl. Mr. White was arrested in the evening of July 8, 2018, less than ten hours after the victim was found dead. Upon his arrest, Mr. White was found in possession of additional fentanyl and cocaine and the marked currency that the undercover officer used to purchase fentanyl earlier that afternoon.
Mr. White was indicted for distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, distribution of fentanyl, and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine. Because of his prior felony drug record, Mr. White faced a sentence of mandatory life in prison if convicted at trial of the distribution resulting in death charge. In September 2020, a jury convicted White for distributing fentanyl to the addict / middleman on July 8, 2018 and for possession with intent to distribute the fentanyl and cocaine found on him at his arrest. The jury did not return a verdict on the distribution resulting in death charge.
Mr. White elected to be retried on the distribution resulting in death charge after declining a plea agreement that would have enabled him to receive a sentence of less than mandatory life in prison. After four days of trial, the jury convicted him. Mr. White’s sentencing is scheduled for April 26, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney at which time he will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
“Fentanyl and its analogues are the deadliest of illegal street drugs. Individuals who order heroin are increasingly receiving fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is much easier and cheaper to produce than heroin but offers a similar high. Addicts who take fentanyl frequently do so with deadly consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Birge. “Those involved in illegal opioid distribution in West Michigan beware: if you deal heroin and fentanyl, you are not only ruining lives, you are often taking them. The West Michigan law enforcement community is committed to ensuring that drug dealers who distribute drugs resulting in death are brought to justice and that lives are accounted for,” added U.S. Attorney Birge.
“Drug dealers, like Mr. White, are dealing poisons in our communities with total disregard for human life,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “We are proud to work with our state and local law enforcement partners to get drug dealers, like Mr. White, out of our neighborhoods and brought to justice.”
“The Grand Rapids Police Department recognizes the toll that the opioid crisis has taken on our community. We strive to hold opioid dealers accountable for the deaths they are continuing to cause in our city and across the country,” added Grand Rapids Police Department Lieutenant Jon Wu. “We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their persistence in securing Mr. White’s conviction for selling fentanyl, which all too often results in death.”
The boyfriend and addict / middleman were criminally charged by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office for their involvement in the offense. They pled guilty and are serving the remainder of their sentences.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel S. Fauson and Austin J. Hakes are prosecuting the case.